Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lights, Lights and more Lights

Going out and looking at Christmas lights is a tradition in our little family. Brian and I have been doing this since we got married. We lived in a highly immigrant neighborhood back then, and very few people decorated their houses with lights. At the time we were in an apartment, and couldn't really do much with lights and decorations outside of our home. We drove down to the Willow Glen area to look at all the beautiful lights on all the beautiful houses. Now that we live in Colorado, which has a far more homogeneous population than California, we don't have to drive as far to see all the beautiful lights that people display on and around their houses.

We braved the dry, 25 degree weather tonight to go look at some impressive light displays. The kids didn't even put on sweatshirts, so they were a little cold. Luckily I had some extra clothing in the car for them to wear. We went to a beautifully decorated house whose owners had this type of display in mind when they designed and built the place. The kids were fascinated by the trains both inside and outside the house, and the fact that Santa (not real) was inside sitting at the table. The pictures are somewhat blurry, as I kept the flash off to see the effects of the lights, but are pretty nonetheless.




Tuesday, December 21, 2010

So, What About the Talking?

For a couple of years now, Brandon has been our bedtime talker. He'll be pretty quiet about the day's events, but suddenly opens up at night after reading and tells us all sorts of things. Sometimes they're worth hearing about, sometimes not. Either way, we try not to discourage him from telling us what's on his mind. Caitlin has recently picked up on this, and now wants to "talk" at night, too. The problem is, she has nothing left to talk about. Caitlin talks all day long, all the time. She talks to us, to herself, to her friends, and to anyone who will listen. In fact, one of things we ask her to do the most is to stop talking!

Last night, after I'd read to Brandon, he asked me a few questions about something. It was so random and mundane that a mere 12 hours later, I can't remember what it was. After I'd answered his questions and tucked him in, I headed next door to Caitlin's room. We talked for a few minutes. I changed her CD and tucked her in. Then she put her hands behind her head (elbows out), and said, "So, what about the talking?" When I asked her what she meant, she said it was now time to talk. No subject matter, mind you, just words. Let's just spew forth words. I had to laugh! She's such a girl! She wants to wear dresses even though she's the most unladylike thing you've ever seen. She likes play dates at friend's houses, and tells me that it was fun "because I've never seen the inside of her house before!" And now she wants to randomly talk right before bed, because it's what your suppose to do. I must say, it's a privilege to have a boy and a girl. It's so fun to see how they are wired. No boy ever says "So, let's just talk." But not Caitlin. No doubt about her girly wiring there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

About the Pageant

Caitlin's Christmas pageant was the other night. We were a little better prepared this year. The weather helped. It was a warm day that turned into a cold, but not frigid or icy, evening. I managed to get the kids fed and out the door on time. It didn't seem as crowded at the church for the Wednesday service as it had last year. Maybe because it wasn't as difficult to get to without the snow and ice.

Caitlin has been preparing for this big event for nearly a month now. She's mangled many a lyric, and yet somehow managed to get them all correct and even wrap her mouth around the word "triumph", which isn't an easy word for the preschool crowd. She was so proud as she walked up the aisle. The amount of time and energy she has put into her performance this year as opposed to last year, when she was just 3, was impressive. She cared so much more about getting all the hand motions correct, and really practiced all her songs. We didn't get a great seat for her performance (who knew the angels would be sequestered to one side?), but we did get a few good pictures.



Her halo fell down at the very end, right before exiting the stage. Somehow, I'm not surprised.
Practicing her Miss America wave to the fam

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fireplace Reading


This is where I found Caitlin this morning. Should I tell her that it's suppose to be a record-breaking 70 degrees today, and not the cold, snowy December that we're use to?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

AWANAS

We decided to put the kids in AWANA this year. So far so good. Sometimes I think I'm crazy, since it goes from 6:30 - 8:20 on Wednesday nights, and is in a neighboring town some 8 miles away, but the kids love it. It does make for late nights, though. Brian and I get a date night (provided he's in a town) for those two hours, which makes us feel like a young couple again, and not old, worn out parents. Here are the kids studying their verses for the Sparks class (Brandon) and the Cubbies class (Caitlin).





Monday, November 29, 2010

The Saga of the Washer and Dryer

You know you're an adult when you buy a washer and dryer on Black Friday. No sweaters. No cute shoes. No electronics. Just a washer and dryer. That was our exciting, and only, purchase of the day. It was Black Friday. And it was a good deal. Half price.

I'm now the proud owner of a front loader HE washing machine. I've only washed a few loads of clothes, and have discovered something already - I'm kind of a slob when it comes to washing. Things fall out of the laundry basket on the way down the stairs. Caitlin's socks reside all over the house, and I am not good at collecting them all. I forget things. I find clothes behind the kids hampers 10 minutes after starting a load of laundry. I'm going to have to come up with a new system, because you can't just re-open the front loading machine when you realized you've forgotten something (or, in Caitlin's case, suddenly spotted a sock under the sofa). I use to be able to do this, long ago, when I had to walk to other buildings, or down several flights of stairs to find a laundry room (hoping there was a machine available). But then again, I was only washing my own clothes. Maybe over time I'll get better, but we have a lot of kids socks whose mate is still hiding somewhere.

It is nice to have a dryer that just works. With the exception of the 5 months in our rental house in Colorado, I haven't had a reliable dryer for almost 7 years. In 2002 we rented a duplex with a very nice washer and dryer. Brand new. After years and years of apartment living, laundromats, and sharing washers and dryers, we felt so spoiled. We moved from that place in the spring of 2004, and I've had to monitor the dryer ever since. The next dryer cooled down so drastically after the machine reached a certain stage - which was about half an hour into the cycle - that I had to reset the machine back in order to get dry clothes. Half and hour later I had to manually set it on cool down. The dryer that came with our current house had no buttons when we first moved in. The cycles were controlled by a vice-grip set of pliers that you used to move to turn the dryer on and off. Right after I bought new knobs, the timer went out. My clothes dried, but only if I monitored the time of the cycle. And manually set it on cool down. So now, almost 7 years later, I don't have to worry about how long the dryer has been on. It turns itself off! I don't have to set a timer. I don't have to panic that I forgot to turn off the dryer after leaving the house (and then turn around and drive home to double check that the dryer is off). The other night I had clothes in dryer, and went to bed before they were dry, because I could! In all reality, I have so little room to complain. I haven't had to share a dryer for years. And my clothes always dried. So it was good. But when you do all the laundry for 4 people, it's nice to not have to always monitor the dryer.

So now we are officially adults. It had nothing to do with age, I guess, but with lifestyle choices. We own a home. We are no longer nomadic. Now we'll have to decide whether or not we want to move them whenever our time here is done. I'm a little sad that everything we own no longer fits into the small to mid-sized U-Haul. We have too much stuff. We've grown up. But what about all those other adults that really don't grown-ups who don't qualify as adults. They still revel in their child-like living? Maybe they should own a washer and dryer.

Yo Ho Yo Ho

Caitlin's singing her Christmas songs again. This time it's "We Three Kings." She's singing the line that goes "oh, oh, star of wonder, star of light" as "yo, ho, star of wonder...." It's a pirate's life for me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

More Lyrics to Kill

Caitlin's moved on from "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Now she's massacring the lyrics to "Joy to the World". Her lyrics are:

"Let earth receive her king!
Let every heart prepare to hurt!" (instead of "prepare him room")a

And, she's singing it all at the top of her lungs in the store. Lovely.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Even More Lyrics

Today - yet more new lyrics for "Hark the Herald Angels Sing":

Joyful all the nations rise,
Join the tramp above the skies!
With all jelly all day long!
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

I'm starting to think she's changing the words because we laugh. However, many, many people at Target, and at the mall in general, were amused by the constant singing and improvised lyrics. Really. They told me so.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tramp... Triumph...Who Cares?

The lyrics to "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" have changed in the last few hours. Now the line "Join the triumph of the skies" is now "Join the tramp up in the skies." At some point we are hoping that Caitlin will be able to say the word "triumph". Before the church preschool Christmas pageant would be nice.

Join the Trip Above the Skies

Caitlin is currently rehearsing "Hark, The Herald Angels Sing" in the bathtub. Her lyrics go something like this:

"Joyful all the nations rise,
Join the trip above the skies! (Join the triumph of the skies)
With all jelly hosts proclaim, (With the angelic hosts proclaim)
Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

I'm worried about the jellied hosts, but the trip above the skies sounds pretty good to me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Swimming in the Garage

As I was pulling the car out of the garage this morning on the way to preschool, Caitlin said she would like to go swimming. I gently reminded her that the pools in town are closed from September to June. She then told me that she wanted me to set up the blow-up pool in the garage and fill it with water. Ha! That's so wrong on so many levels. First there's the concussion problem we'd have if she flopped into the pool while it's on a cement floor. Then there's the weather now that we've entered the time of year in Colorado known as "it won't be warm for the next 6 months". Brrrr. Might reach 60 today. Who knows?

I guess it's time to tell Caitlin that we'll be heading down to Colorado Springs in a few days. We're staying a hotel with an indoor pool. Although we won't be at the pool all the time, as Caitlin would like, I'm sure it will be enough to make her happy for a while.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Absentee Blogger

I'm an absentee blogger lately. Sorry. Brandon got sick the weekend of Halloween, and I followed suit. He recovered quite a bit quicker than I did. For a head cold, this one really wiped me out. The head and stomach hurt, and I spent a few days eating only saltines (although the scale is not reflecting my drastic cut in calories). After a week, I was up and down. I'd feel good one day, and be up. The next day I'd feel horrible, and be down on the couch. Top it all off with trouble hearing out of one ear, a sensitive stomach, busy kids and a traveling husband and well, the blog lay silent. I'm now on the road to recovery, thanks to some antibiotics and steroid spray to clear up the non-draining sinus (which should lead to being able to hear again someday!), so I thought I'd catch you up on what we've been up to:

Halloween-
Thank God it's over! Is it just me, or does it get crazier every year until you kids go to college? Brandon was Juice Box and Caitlin was Tinkerbell. Caitlin spotted a cute Tinkerbell outfit in the thrift store when I was looking for a miners hat for Brandon (not even for Halloween - for Constitution Day. Heck - why not add another costume to October?). Yay! Before that she wanted to be Clifford. That would have been labor intensive.

AWANA-
we signed the kids up for AWANA on Wednesday nights. There is very little close by where we live, so it's a 7 mile drive to the church where they meet. Initially it was very chaotic, but we now understand what we're doing, so it's good. The kids love it, and are very good at verse memorization. Brian and I have made it "date night" for us, since we have a 2 hour window kid-free (!!!). Every other week we meet up with another couple whose kids are also in AWANA. It's a nice change. The only downside is that we don't get home until almost 9:00. That's late for our kiddos to get into bed. But they're learning God's word, which makes it all worth it.

Brandon -
He loves school. We had a parent-teacher meeting a while back, and found out he's reading at an early 3rd grade level. Go Brandon! He loves math and science, and seems to be doing well in his class. His teacher got him into a handwriting workshop that meets twice a week for just under half an hour. I'm glad he's getting help at school with his handwriting. We butt heads on this one at home. It's the one area I almost can't help him with.

Caitlin-
Also loves school. She's in preschool 3 days a week, and is so happy. She has been writing a lot, and attempting to read. Every day when Brandon does his homework she drags out her "homework" so they can do it together. Parenting her "4 Going on 14" attitude is another story. Her favorite phrase is, quite literally, "Just let me do what I want to do!" What she wants to do is wear shorts and flip-flops in the snow, forgo underwear and socks, cut her hair off, and listen to her CD player loudly at all times. So far, I've let her cut her hair short. I've hidden all forms of sandals and flip-flops, and have absolutely no issues going through her drawers if she can't wear appropriate clothing. Luckily, the weather here get cold enough that eventually even the most stubborn of children will at least wear something warm.

Me -
I've been doing publicity for my MOPS group, a Bible study on Revelation, and meeting with a group of women on Thursday mornings. Other than that I'm a full time mother to two children.

Brian-
He's been doing a new job within the same company for a couple of months now. It seems to be going well. You'd have to ask him for more details.

I think that's about it from our little family. At some point I'm going to put more pictures up on the picture site, but that's for another day. Maybe the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe.

Brandon's Rules

Sign found in Brandon's room this morning. Spelling and rules written just as they appear:

Rules in hear:
1) No snapping (as in snapping your fingers)
2) No wisiling
3) No jumping on the bed
4) No hiding anything
5) No playing with anything unless I say
6) No fiting (fighting)
7) No stomping
8) No annoying

Now you know the rules of Brandon's room for next time. Don't say you weren't warned!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Why I Shop There

Why do I shop at King Soopers? I complain about it a lot. The stores are poorly laid out. The cashiers are slower than molasses. But, this is my latest receipt:

It's the sales. Granted, the prices are better than most grocery stores, but it's still a grocery store. But this week was the "mega event" (really - that's what they're called) "buy 10, get $5 off" promotion. I didn't need to go shopping last week. This whole trip was stock-up shopping on sale items. On this trip I bought 10 boxes of Annie's organic mac-n-cheese, 2 quarts of organic chicken broth, 5 cans of other chicken broth, 2 bags of Ricola, coffee creamer, dividers for my binder, and 3 Halloween pumpkin buckets for the backyard. 24 items in total. By combining store savings, specials and coupons, I bought $47 worth of food stuff for $10. There's more this week, too, so I'll be back. I don't think I've ever gotten a 79% savings before. It's so much better, too, when you can get great deals on organics. They're usually so expensive!

I wish Safeway did this with items I actually use (I'll be skipping the fruit roll-ups and Count Chocula cereals, thank you). It's so much closer, too. King Soopers is by Caitlin's school - a full 8 miles away - so I doubt I'll shop there very often after she is out of preschool. Maybe I'll make special trips out for these great deals. Might be worth the gas money. Since my daily/weekly schedule will completely change yet again next year with Caitlin in kindergarten, I don't know how things will fall into place. But if I can keep shopping like this, we'll have more money to do fun stuff!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Costumes

Okay, I'm a little late on this one. Brandon was sick the weekend of Halloween, but was able to go out for a while to go trick or treating. Combine that with a busy week, Mommy catching Brandon's cold, and Daddy being gone on a business trip, and well... there was very little getting done.

We had a juice box and Tinkerbell around for Halloween. Here's the picture to prove it.



Once I figure out this new computer, I might get a few more pictures up on the Picassa site. Good luck to me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bleah! Spider!

Look at the amazingly big spider I found in the basement yesterday!


It was quite icky. I was kneeling down to check on the furnace, and almost put my knee on it. While I think I would have won, it wouldn't have been pleasant. The kids were proud of the fact I caught it, and even found a place in the backyard to put it. Bleah! Glad it's gone!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pumpkin Patch 2010

Summer has gone on for what feels like forever around here, but the forecast is saying fall might really be here to stay this week. The leaves are turning and the hillsides are taking on a golden hue. In taking advantage of the warm weather, we decided to brave the Colorado pumpkin patches last weekend. It was a breeze! Unlike last year, the pumpkin crop was a good one. The evenings have been above freezing so far (just barely last night), we've had no snow yet, and almost no rain all summer. Really, there weren't any reasons that the pumpkin patch should be a muddy, yucky mess this time around!

We headed out right after soccer (which explains Caitlin's shirt). It was warm and dry, and not cold. Last year we looked at several hundred pumpkins (no exaggeration there) in order to find a few that weren't rotten. This year the good ones outnumbered the rotten ones by a wide margin. What a nice difference. We still got a little dirty. That one seems hard not do around these parts. But we came home with two nice pumpkins, and two happy children. I'm hoping that now Caitlin will stop asking to get a pumpkin every time she sees one at the store.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Last Day of Soccer (!!!)

Oh yes, it's the last day of soccer, and we are happy! The kids aren't thrilled, but mom and dad are looking forward to having our Saturday's back for a while. Mom is also looking forward to not hanging out at the park every Thursday night from 5:30-6:30, sweating while the sun's up and then freezing for 15-20 minutes because the sun has gone behind the Flatirons and, once again, she forgot a sweater.Align Left


Today was payback for last weekend, when we only had one game. At 11:00 am. It was a leisurely morning. Today was not the same story. Both kids had games at 9:00 am. It was cold, and the fields were very wet. Fall has arrived, and we could feel it today. On the bright side, we had the whole day available to us after 10:00! It was a very.long.day.

The kids have had a great soccer season. Both want to do it again in the spring. I'm all for signing them up again. But I'm reclaiming Saturdays for a while!

Above - Caitlin demonstrating the pack mentality of playing soccer that is so prevalent in the Little Kickers division.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Over Analysing the Doctor

I read The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Suess to Caitlin this afternoon. Her choice, not mine. It's not my favorite book. At least it's an easy read. But now, as a parent, I find it a little odder than I did as a kid. I know it's just a book, but I find it strange that in the book there are two little kids left at home all afternoon. Now I'm also worried that the fish is the voice of reason. Maybe I should just read, and not analyse.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tired

I knew I was tired yesterday. MOPS mornings always wear me out. Maybe it's the early hours, or helping clear things up after the meeting, but I felt drained. Brian was in Seattle most of last week, meaning I was more tired than usual. Our neighbor was gone to California for 5 days, meaning I needed to take and pick up Brandon from school (which, although not exhausting, takes up some extra time in the morning). Caitlin's school was closed for three days last week due to a Lutheran teachers conference, taking away 8 hours that I usually have to myself to do things. I spend a good chunk of the weekend working on the MOPS newsletter because of that. Last night I went to a women's event at church. But it was early this morning, when I put on my glasses and realized the world had gone from clear to blurry, I really knew I was tired.

I don't even know the last time I didn't take my contacts out at night because I forgot. Maybe I never have. I use to have the kind you wore at night, but they bothered my eyes so much when I wore them overnight that I eventually started taking them out in the evenings. In Colorado it's so amazingly dry, especially in the winter, that there are days I can't wear them past 4:00 or 5:00 in the evening. I was so confused this morning when I put on my glasses and everything went blurry. I hadn't been awake long enough to register how clear I was seeing. I didn't want to wake up, so I hadn't turned a light on at all. So much for finally being use to my 6:00 am mornings.

It's funny how it's the little things that wear you down. There was no big event going on. Nothing major happened to me last week. Brian was gone most of the week, and single parenting is always tiring. I wonder if single parents ever get use to it? Our neighbor was gone for 5 days, so I took Brandon to school. Not only does that mean getting Caitlin up early, but then there's the exhaustion of pulling her away from the swings after the bell rings for class. With Caitlin's school closed for several days and no available play dates (trust me, I tried!), I spent more time than usual entertaining her when I needed to get other things done. The weekend included soccer, dinner at a friend's house, finishing the MOPS newsletter, our small group, and a newcomers lunch. You'd think I would have gotten enough sleep due to oversleeping by an hour on Sunday! Saturday morning wasn't so bad, either. But a bunch of little things combined are enough to wear a person down. I'm still feeling tired, and it's 9:00 am! Obviously I should get off the computer and get my rear in gear.

I'm grateful for the cold, rainy weather today. Fall is here. Playing outside after school is limited, which means homework and AWANA memorization is done earlier. The kids bedtimes come earlier. And from how this post sounds, I should make mine a little earlier, too.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Punk


Caitlin got her hair spray painted at Brandon's school's fundraiser event last week. Doesn't she look a little punk?

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Not Be a Dragon

This is how it's suppose to be worn.
After all, it's a size 12 months.


This is how it was being worn the other day.


I just hope it isn't all stretched out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brandon Stats - Age 7

Brandon had his 7 year check-up today. All is well in Brandon-land. He is now up to a whopping almost 4 feet tall, and weighs in at just over 47 pounds. Brian was busy today, so only Brandon and I went to the pediatrician's office. I can't remember the last time that happened! It's so much calmer with just one child.

Height - 47 3/4 inches (50th percentile)
Weight - 47 1/4 pounds (25th percentile)

He's back in the 25th percentile in weight. It doesn't seem to matter how much he eats. Caitlin has a much more varied palate as far as food is concerned, but Brandon eats better. He eats more, and we don't usually have to get on him to eat a decent amount at each meal. This year he has discovered the joys of hot dogs (okay - it's a mystery meat. I get that. But at least it's something he can eat at a picnic or BBQ) and granola bars. He's still growing, and I'm still struggling with finding clothes that fit him, and least girth-wise. He is widening his circle of friends at school. He's always been on the shy side, so this is a good sign.

Other things Brandon is up to:

  • Playing soccer again, for the fall season. We're much warmer this time around.
  • Making new friends.
  • Reading at the top of his class
  • Wrapping his mind all around math and science. At this rate, we aren't going to be able to keep up with him in a few more years.
  • Swims all by himself, thanks to a week in Florida.
  • Waters his Daddy's tomato and rosemary plants.
  • Exploring "Star Wars" (but not yet obsessed with it!)
  • Can be very sensitive and caring with others. This is displayed especially well in his tenderness towards our neighbor's little baby (born in January), and his niceness to her older brother, who is 3.
  • Acting in all other ways like a 7 year old. Compared with the other boys he hangs out with, he seems much more mature. Time will tell, I guess, but that's what I see.

Fall

Around 4:00 am, in the early morning hours, I got cold. My sheet and quilt, which have been far too many covers for most of this summer, were not enough. I tried to snuggle up to Brian, but he was already cocooned in the bedding, leaving little warmth for me to glean from him. I got up, finally, and shut the window.

Cold.

I haven't felt that for a while.

Summer came early this year. It was hot in May. Early May was cool. We even had snow on the 12th. But after that, it was hot, and it stayed hot. My May pictures show children running through sprinklers. Children in bathing suits. The town pools were not yet open, and we were hot! Summer was hot, too. Not as hot as parts of California can get, but hot. Air conditioners running. Cool showers. At least a third of the summer days were in the mid 90's, and didn't cool down in the evenings. 75 is not a nighttime cool down in my opinion. The issue you run into in Colorado is that the sun is intense. That's great in the winter, when you crave the warmth of the sun. In the summer, though, it makes your skin crawl. I seek shade so that my arms don't hurt. Summer isn't my favorite season. My allergies get worse the hotter it gets. I have headaches that last for days. I don't sleep well. I try to appreciate it here, as it's the only time Colorado is green and looks alive.

But now..... it's cool.

Brian noted that it was suddenly cold last night. I smiled. I am so looking forward to fall. I am looking forward to the busyness of the season. The busyness of routine. School, events, soccer, activities. Some is old and much is new. I'm looking forward to fall colors - even though they lead to the barrenness of winter in these parts. Fire reds, hot pinks, brilliant oranges, muted browns. So beautiful. I'm looking forward to sleeping with my windows closed. Silence. Snuggling under the down comforter. Fireplace. Cool days. Open windows during the day. Happy children. Being able to bake again. I am looking forward to the big, fluffy clouds that have been absent (along with the rain) this summer. I look forward to the possibilities that recent changes will bring. It's a new start. A new season. Cool, crisp air to breath in and breath out.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On Having a 7 Year Old

I have a 7 year old. It's wonderful. He gets up (most of the time) to his alarm clock. He can get dressed all by himself. He reads, he writes, he's independent and friendly. He walks to school. He plays soccer. He divides numbers in his head, and has a theory for how everything works.


He also waits patiently by his presents until it's time to open them.



Happy Birthday Brandon!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

School Celebration


Since there's no school tomorrow, Brandon's class celebrated his birthday today. I didn't manage to catch all their birthday song, but what I got is cute. Brandon loved being celebrated!


video

Monday, September 13, 2010

Unanswered


We joined a small group at our new church. Last night was our first meeting, and everyone seemed pretty low-key and normal.  I'm resisting the urge to assign a value factor to this first meeting, but I did get a positive vibe from the experience.  We'll be heading back in the near future to meet up with them again and see if this is the right small group for us.

But that's not the point of this post. For a few months now, we've been in the process of "moving on" from our previous church to a new church. Joining the new small group was just one piece of trying to make this puzzle. Prior to joining FCC, we weren't thinking about leaving our LifeGroup. At least not yet. But the new small group met on the same day, same time as our previous LifeGroup, and we can't be two places at once. Deciding to be pro-active about the situation (since we'd never heard anything one way or another about our old LifeGroup starting back up again this fall), Brian sent an e-mail to the leader last week, on Sunday. He explained that we'd left CBC and joined another church over the summer, and that we were joining a small group there. Coincidentally, but for another reason, I had sent an e-mail to another member of the group explaining the same thing. Our e-mails were polite and nice. We read each other's messages. No edge at all. It's been over a week, and we have never heard anything back.

Nothing.

Not even the polite sort of "sorry to see you go" response. The kind you send even if you aren't sorry to see someone go. Just... nothing.

Crickets chirping can be so loud.

We're not really all that surprised to have heard nothing. Brian decided last night that we need to stop feeling sad or offended about it, and keep pushing forward. Maybe, he said, God is using their lack of response to our leaving the group as a means to reinforce the reasons we're leaving and moving on. Even though this complete lack of response is hard, I don't have any more energy to pour into this situation. I'm so tired. I'm exhausted.

I've tried not to take this lack of connecting in a meaningful way personally, which is very, very hard for me not to do. I read a quote today that said "It doesn't take long to realize that if you're just passing through, people will only give you passing interest." It resonated with me, but not quite in the way the author intended. We are not just passing through here. We are trying to be part of this big, rather unfriendly place. We are trying to enmesh ourselves in community, choosing to be with people and live as believers. It's not as if we were just passing through at our church, either. We were there for several years. When we came to the realization sometime around Christmas that we were still outside, we had to make some hard decisions. And the main decision was that we needed to move on. At that point I started to withdraw myself from the the communities I was part of. I stopped attending MOPS (which I was only sporadically attending anyway), and finished out the semester of my Bible study small group on Wednesday mornings. We attended church as long as our LifeGroup met, and stopped when it ended for the summer. Now we are somewhere else. Colorado is fine, but has so far proven to be a tough nut to crack. I have to believe that God has good things in store for our future, but I have no idea what they are or where they'll take place. Who knows how we'll feel in another year. The same? I hope not.

**On a side note, I need to stop writing about this. I've come to the conclusion that I'm a complainer at heart, which is something I need to change. And, at this point, I'm just complaining. It's taken over a week for me to push the "publish" button. Sorry for one more post on this subject, but I have to get it out.**

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Soccer, Soccer and More Soccer

Two kids in soccer is just, well, crazy.






Caitlin and her buddy, Mia. They go to preschool together, carpool together, and love playing together.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Moving On.........

I've been part of a large women's Bible study at our old church in Boulder for 3 years now. You all know how much I loved it (not). You're all aware of how I was told by my two small group leaders that I had anger management issues, and that is (their reasoning) why I was catching so many colds over the winter. What you may not know is that one of those leaders now leads the entire women's group, which has been hard for me. I'm not into listening to all her "pearls of wisdom" each Wednesday morning. I've built up a wall, I guess. I'd like to just show up late to the larger group to avoid her "teaching", but feel guilty taking Caitlin to the child care rooms an hour after class has begun. I've also been having an aversion to people using the words "lovely ladies" and "precious" in every other sentence. Thanks to only a few people, my time with this group wasn't precious. It was hard.

So, last year I spent many hours searching for other women's groups, or mom's groups, anywhere in a 10 mile radius of my house. The population gets bigger as you head south towards Denver, so I thought that a group wouldn't be hard to find. I was wrong. Days were wrong, hours were off, studies were extremely involved (I'm not there yet). I found a lot that met in the evenings, but with no childcare, I was out. Brian travels too much for that. I felt stuck. Not wanting to stay home alone all the time, I went back to my regular women's group, but wasn't a big fan of the larger group aspect - or the group leaders, for that matter. One is the former group leader mentioned above, the other is someone who acts so friendly in public, but no where else. It's so fake with her that even Brian's noticed (and he thinks it's rude). I was so undecided that I didn't make the decision to return until the day before the group began. But return I did. My desire to not be alone all the time once again won out. My small group was wonderful, but the larger group didn't thrill me as much. I was torn again this summer - do I return, do I not bother - until another option came up. Our new church! Last week I signed up for a women's Bible study. Gasp! You're all shocked, I know. She made a decision! Same day of the week, same time, new church. I don't know anyone, and that's fine right now.

I had pondered returning to CBC for the women's group all summer. We were attending RCC for three months. It had a Bible study coming up in fall, but when I was told how many hours per day it involved at home each week, I wasn't thrilled. Even with my few hours per week to myself, I'm still a stay-at-home mom with young kids. Also, it was on a day that I have preschool carpool duty, so that would always be a factor on how long I could stay. I decided, reluctantly, with some pain, that I would probably go back to CBC on Wednesday mornings. *sigh* But now I have another option. Once I signed up at FCC, I had a sad little thought of all the people that I knew that I'd be leaving behind. I sighed internally, and felt a little forlorn, even though I'm the one doing the leaving. But then I realized this - I'm not leaving behind any great friendships. Not even any budding friendships (if they haven't budded in the last few years, they're probably not going to). I'm only leaving behind acquaintances and familiarity. It's not like I saw any of these people over the summer. Of course, I never called, either.

In all reality, much of this is my fault. After opening myself up, being vulnerable, and then being harshly criticized, I shut down. I stopped letting people in. I complained a lot (mostly to myself, God and Brian, but still...). I regret staying with my first small group and not trying out something different. By doing this I think I just simmered in my mad juices for too long. And while I don't consider myself a quitter, I have come to a point in my life in which I will quit something I view as futile. If it has an end date, I will usually continue until that end, and then stop. But either way, I quit. In this case, I guess I should consider it "moving on" instead of quiting. In as much as I'm a fan of familiarity, there's nothing to be sad about here. I have no idea what this new group is like, and I'm not out to make fast friends this time(although I wouldn't push them away), and I'm okay with all of that. The study, at least, seems promising. It's fresh. It's new. If nothing else, it's something that's moving me in the right direction. "Moving on....."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Howler

My child is weird. In case you were unaware of that fact, here's the video to prove it:
video

She didn't know we were watching her until the end. It appears that she is a feral child. What does that say about us?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for both kids. Talk about a crazy morning! Brian woke up early and just couldn't go back to sleep. He left for work at 6:00 am, leaving me to get myself and two children up and ready for school in the morning. Now, I've done this before more times than I can remember, but it's been a few months. It was a little stressful. It wasn't until after I got home from Caitlin's school that I discovered my coffee cup - still 3/4 full. It's a rare occasion that I forget about my coffee. Anyway, although Brandon has been so excited about school starting up again, he was not happy about getting up early. Nor was he happy about the slightly cold temperature of the house (it was 69 inside), which lead to many a shed tear. Caitlin was completely conked out, and didn't wake up even when her door was left wide open. This girl usually wakes up when someone breathes anywhere near her room! Luckily for me, she's the easy one in the morning. She wakes up happy, which is good because I had to scramble this morning to get everyone up and ready on time! Brandon, on the other hand, wakes up moody, and is also my cuddly, snugly boy. I get him up earlier in the morning than most of his friends get up so that so he gets all the snuggle time he needs before getting ready for school. Caitlin likes her snuggle time and all, but she can deal with it if it has to end a little earlier than normal. Brandon can't.

After many tears, getting dressed, and breakfast, we headed out. It's chaotic at the school on the first day. In many cases, entire families come the school. Moms, dads, grandparents........ Maybe this is normal everywhere, but my kids haven't done school in other places, so I don't know. Although we'd talked with his teacher for a whole 20 seconds on Monday, I still couldn't find the art door or the chair with her name on it (signaling where the kids should line up). Other parents seemed to know where to go, so I followed them. Brandon couldn't see it, and was close to tears. "What if I can't find my teacher?" Using my super-mommy powers, I managed to quell the tears and get him calmed down. The scene at the school was noisy and crowded. Mommy can deal. Brandon can't.




Finally all the second graders walked into the school building at 7:55. We were free! Caitlin and I had half an hour, so we headed back home to grab her lunch and her "All About Me" poster before heading off to her school in Boulder. It was all calm and serene this time around. The preschoolers were all so happy to be in school. With only two classrooms, there was not the mob of children we had previously experienced. Caitlin was thrilled to see all her friends in the same place again. I managed to say my goodbyes and leave her without so much as a sniffle. Such a difference! First days of school are hard, but I have a feeling Caitlin won't be as worked up as Brandon is when she isn't completely in control.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Meet The Teacher

Let me first say this - whoever thought it would be a good idea for all 600 students at Brandon's school to meet their new teacher and bring in school supplies on Monday, from 2:00-2:30, should be shot. Half an hour? All the students? Maybe I'm just crazy for assuming that I should go, but go we did.

We decided not to drive. Although we only live half a mile from the school, all the road construction in our area this summer has made walking difficult. Sidewalks and walking paths have been closed for months, and there has been no bike lane, and there are cones and pillons all over the place - so this was a big decision. Caitlin assured me that she could ride her bike up the hills. She does at home and I've witnessed it, so I believed her. She lied. Other families also not driving managed to take up the entire sidewalk, making it hard to go past. Caitlin almost took out a couple of families! One entire side of the street was closed, crowding us all on to one sidewalk. Caitlin couldn't get on her bike fast enough to be with us when it was time to cross the street, so she'd end up not crossing when we crossed........ It was so much more of a nightmare than I could have imagined. I think riding bikes to school is not in my future. At least not my immediate future.

Even with all the chaos, I'm still glad we decided not to drive, as the school and all surrounding streets were inundated with cars. The school really only has enough parking for the teachers. Maybe they assume everyone will walk. It is Colorado, after all. There are only about 50 spaces available, which makes the days we need to drive to school (like, when it's snowing, or 10 degrees below zero) very difficult. We managed to crowd into the school and find Brandon's classroom. I had labeled almost everything (just like we had to in first grade), and yet most of it was put into big bins. I guess everyone will know what I bought. Brandon's classroom had a cozy, warm ambiance to it, which was nice. One other classroom felt this way, but the other two were stark. His teacher seemed very nice, and we got to see which classmates we already knew.

I am very much looking forward to school starting. The kids are starting to go stir-crazy, and are driving me crazy in the process. Brandon starts tomorrow at 7:55, and Caitlin starts at 8:30. I'm sure I'll be busy getting everything ready tonight. Tomorrow, at 8:45 am, it will all be worth it!

Yay! School!

School starts tomorrow! I'm not sure who is more excited - me or the kids. I'm so excited to have breathing room during the week, and the ability to work on some stuff for my new MOPS group. Brandon's happy to meet his new teacher today, and excited to start the school year learning and studying cycle again. But Caitlin woke up this morning just hoping desperately that it was the first day of school. She might be the most excited. Tomorrow, honey, tomorrow.

New Church?

Our search for a new church home and community is no secret here. It's been well documented in this blog. We left our church in Boulder after almost 3 years and set out this summer to find a new one. Although we like the pastor, worship, and in general think the people of CBC are friendly enough (at least with each other), we weren't connecting. I've done a small group, playgroups, get togethers, MOPS, Bible study, Sunday classes, and church, and still leave there without chatting about anything more substantial than the weather. After 3 years of striving to connect and feel like we are part of something, it's frankly just gotten old. We're suppose to want to be with God's people, aren't we? Seriously- we're not not looking for people to share our deep, dark secrets with. We just want to connect and have community. I feel like a piece of me is missing by not having this. We've tried a few churches, and didn't get excited about them. We settled on RCC, a small, local church in the hopes that the location of not only the church, but also the attendees, would be a good thing. We like the pastor. But we're now 3 months in, and nothing. No one even bothers to talk to us. It feels like we've crashed someone else's party. If I hadn't been tried to be part of 6-week women's Bible study this summer, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't know anyone's name. Honestly, for church of its size (100 to 150 people maybe?), that's unacceptable.

So, yesterday we tried a new church. Although we were going to re-evaluate our situation in the fall, something spurred us on this soon. Possibly the fact that it really looked interesting from the website, or not feeling at all connected at RCC after 3 months, or the false friendliness we encountered by someone from CBC that we see quite regularly? Is it because I'm at the three year mark in this area, and I tend to re-evaluate at three years? I tend to want to move, also, which is another post altogether. Whatever it was, it was enough to turn our hearts toward trying something new. And..........

We liked it.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We found a church online last week that looked promising. We headed 10 miles south this time, instead of the same distance north, and found the whole experience to be positive. The drive isn't bad (and you have to drive, drive, drive around here). The church is housed in a set of theatres - an older movie theatre complex in a strip mall. The sanctuary is a large theatre, with the kids stuff being housed in other, smaller theatres or some of the neighboring strip mall units. It's quite amazing what they've done with it all. Our old church in California met in the theatre of a high school, with the classes being scattered amongst the classrooms and other buildings. I felt oddly at home yesterday in the middle of the chaos, theatre-style seating and distance between the classes. I liked that fact that the church was large, with at least 300 people in the service - and we went to the second service. I liked the worship - it was wonderful! So much more to our liking and not painful or hard to sing along. Brian really liked the worship leader, which is always good, and we both liked the sermon. It left me thinking, not lacking. The kids seemed to enjoy their respective classes as well. Brandon's class had a "game room", which opens 20 minutes before class starts. I hope he doesn't like his class just because it had Mario Kart for the Wii and an enormous blow-up slide! (Both are in the game room, which is only open between services)

It's hard to gauge from one attendance how the future will look. The people seemed nice, casual, and had a wide age range. Although we're just looking for a place to attend right now, I also want to find a place where we fit in and a place to serve. I think it's important for me and important to model service for my children. I suffered from some serious service burn-out before after moving here, but feel like I'm recovering well and starting to put it all behind me.

We'll try it again next week and see what we think. We've tried a boat load of places, and haven't been this interested in returning to a place for a while. Well, really since we went to CBC three years ago. So, we'll see how it goes this time around. Brandon and Caitlin both showed more interest in their classes than they have in a long time, although Caitlin really missed her teacher at CBC (I had to convince her that she would be moving to a different class anyway this year). It could be the place we've been looking for.

Monday, August 09, 2010

On Scammers

I got my first "relay call" for a Craiglist item today. The relay service is when someone who has a hearing problem types their questions/responses to a relay operator, and that operator talks to the hearing person on the other end. I thought it was strange that he called, since anyone who is interested in my Craigslist items can just e-mail the advertisement. It was also a San Diego number - I'm in Colorado (could have been a cell phone. One never knows). The third red flag was the fact that he'd seen my "advert" on Craigslist. Advert? So I'm getting calls from a deaf British person who hasn't changed his cell phone to a local number? I mean, it is possible. I live near a university which educates students from all over the world. But, then again, no.

He was interested in my tricycle. It's a nice tricycle. Caitlin's had a great time with it for the last few years. But this guy was really interested in it. Very excited! After I gave him one of my e-mail addresses through the relay service, he send me a note. His hold on the English language was loose, at best. His e-mail was full of typos and didn't pluralize most words that needed it. For example, he lived "many state away". Hmmm..... On top of it all, he wanted to send me a cashier's check or money order and have me ship it to Massachusetts. To sweeted the deal, he'd add an extra $10, along with the shipping costs. Wow! $10. I don't sell things on Craigslist because I'm desperate for cash. I sell them because we no longer need them. The cash is nice, too.

I sold two other items on Craigslist today. Both were local moms looking for a good deal on a used toy. One had a local number, the other did not. Both set up times to stop by and pick up what I was selling. The one who e-mailed me didn't have typos in her e-mail, and seemed to have a good handle on the English language. No red flags there. This is my typical type of sale - to local who stops by to pick up the item, or I meet them in a public place. I know scammers are everywhere. You hear about them on the news or talk shows, and read about it online. I just can't figure out who would fall for one like this. Did he do a relay call so I wouldn't hear his voice? Why didn't he just e-mail me? Is he dumb? Obviously, I didn't ship the trike. I was polite in my refusal e-mail, and didn't respond further. He send me a couple more, begging me to send the trike again, but stopped after that. I'm still curious as to why he wanted to scam me using a tricycle ad? I guess scammers want my money. No from this girl. Sorry.

Overcast

Yesterday I complained silently to God that I was tired of being hot. I'm not ready for snow and ice, but ready for the high heat to subside. I was also missing foggy, overcast mornings. The sun in Colorado can be a bit much sometimes.

Today I woke up to a nice, cool, overcast mornings. Complete with sleeping children. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for reminding me that you're there, and that you do listen.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Full Summer Soon Ending

I just enrolled both kids in soccer this fall through the YMCA (Caitlin was a little miffed that we didn't enroll her last spring, so I remedied that!) And I accepted the Publicity Coordinator position in the MOPS group I'll be attending this fall If you don't see or hear from me until Christmas, this will be why! The fall is looking pretty busy for this stay-at-home mom type. Brandon will be in 2nd grade. Caitlin will be in Pre-K 3 mornings a week. Along with MOPS and Bible study, and all the other stuff I randomly do, I'll have most days full. It will be a good change from summer, where I am with kids all day, every day.

I'm craving the structure of the school year, although I can't say I'm looking forward to school starting in a mere 2 1/2 weeks! We've had a full summer. It's been a lot better than last summer, which was just weirder than weird. This year we were in California with one set of grandparents, Florida for vacation, VBS sports camp, preschool day camp, grandparents coming......all good things. But even with the ability to sleep in some days, the days I'm home are full days trying to keep the kids entertained. I've threatened to string the kids up by their toenails if I hear "Mom, I'm bored!" one more time (Brandon doesn't take me seriously, but Caitlin holds her toes now when she's not sure what to do). Soon it will be all over, and I'll be back to my 6:00 am mornings - wailing plaintively about how I miss summer. Such is the cycle of the year, I guess. Even Brandon told me recently that he misses school. Yay! Caitlin definitely misses her friends, although I'm not sure she misses learning. I'm glad the kids are looking forward to school starting, too. It'll make mid-August a lot easier to take.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Almost

I almost became a Coloradoan yesterday. Almost.

It happened as I was taking Caitlin to day camp, and Brandon to VBS soccer camp. We left at 8:15 in the morning. During the school year that's positively late for us, but it's pretty early in the morning these days. The road I drive to Caitlin's school cuts through a shopping center with a Target, Michael's, Whole Foods, etc., and the speed limit raises up to a normal speed as you pass Costco at the end of the center. I was tootling along past Costco, quite happy at my slow shopping center speed, when I noticed a few cars seemly piling up behind me. I'd already passed the raised speed limit, and could go 50 MPH, but instead was still meandering at 35 MPH. I quickly raised my speed, and happily continued the 5 or so miles to school. Even though we're on a country road (with a gorgeous view of the Rockies, I might add), you really can't pass other cars. I don't want to be that person slowing everyone down. It's frustrating to be stuck behind a slow driver - a scenario I know all too well!

I'm not sure what was going on with me. Maybe I was still in vacation mode. Maybe (more likely) I was tired. Either way, it was a shock to me that I was driving so slow. I'm not the speed demon I use to be, but I still take the speed limit as just that - the speed you can attain in good weather. Not merely a suggestion of how fast you could go if you really wanted to.

Today I was back to my normal self. Out there, gettin' frustrated, yet again, with the Colorado drivers who think that the numbers on the speed limit sign are waayyyy too high. Frustrated with the drivers who have no idea about fast and slow lanes. Frustrated and talking (in my car, mind you) to the other drivers that yellow does not mean stop. Wondering why so many large trucks drive through Boulder instead of taking I-25 through the state. And still frustrated that there is no efficient way to get through Boulder (it's been a couple of months since I had to drive through the town with a time limit to meet). I was almost gone, but I'm back now. Hello!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Anna Maria

Greetings from Anna Maria Island in Florida! On Saturday we trekked out to the airport and made our way from the middle of the country to a coastal section of the country. It's good to be by the beach again.

So far, so good. We are loving the beauty of Florida. The colors are lovely, especially the amazing variations in the water. Blues, whites, greens, teals - all surrounded by green flora and amazingly white sand. And the sand here..... it's as soft as powdered sugar! The shells and bits of ground up shells make it much more rough, but the sand itself is lovely! The gulf coast beach water is as warm as bath water. It's so completely different from the Pacific ocean. You actually want to be in the water here, and your feet don't slowly succumb to hypothermia.

We rented a little bungalow in Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island. We are two blocks from the ocean one way, and I think it's 3 in the other direction. Our place has a pool in the back yard, which has officially transformed us into the best parents ever, according to the kids. They are having so much fun. It's much easier to watch them and swim with them in a private pool versus the public pools in our town (not to mention we don't have to deal with all the nasty chlorine). Not having the life jackets has also been good, as the kids' confidence and swimming abilities have improved. Brandon especially. Caitlin is our fish, but Brandon has taken to jumping off one end of the pool and swimming underwater as much as he can to to the other side of the pool. They just love having a pool. We've noticed that Caitlin gets all whiny when we take her away from the water, either the pool or the beach. We've also noticed she's exhausted at the end of the day and is asleep almost as soon as her head hits the pillow. Score!

Now that we've lived in Colorado, land of no moisture, for 3 years, my ability to handle humidity has gone waaayyyy downhill. The almost 70% humidity levels we're experiencing here make the mild 85 degree weather feel 7-10 degrees hotter. We notice that the heat rises as we leave the island, and we feel hotter and stickier away from the beach breezes. I've heard it's better for my skin, though, and I don't feel the need to slather on lotion all the time. Floridians must just get use to the weather eventually. I mean, my parents aren't nearly as bothered by the central valley heat as I am, so one can only conclude that you get use to weather you live in. Eventually. I'm glad we have A/C in our rental house. I'm not sure I'd last a whole week here without it. This might be the most humid place I've ever been. It feels the same in the water as it does out of the water. And it's can feel hard to take a deep breath at times, despite the higher amounts of oxygen here than what we're use to.

Brian is cooking a yummy dinner, so I'm going to sign off now and get to setting the table. I'm sure we'll either head out to the beach after dinner, or head back into the pool. I'll post pictures after we get home so you can share in the beautiful sights of Florida.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Knife Sharpening - Colorado Style

I meant to drop my knives off before I left for California. Really! I did! The last time I got them sharpened was in summer of 2007, and they've needed a resharpening for a while now! Unfortunately, the knife sharpening place at our local mall (complete with a staff sporting mohawks and *a lot* of piercings) closed in early 2008. Every other local place I've looked into (read - not Denver) requires leaving your knives with them for a week! Not over night. Not even two nights. But an entire week! I cook almost every day. Not having my knives for a week is a handicap. Hence, wanting to drop them off before I left for my parent's house.

Fast forward to the present time. Brian's gone all week, and I don't do much cooking when he's gone. I meant to drop the knives off in Boulder on Friday when I was there, and forgot yet again (!!!). Guess I'm not in the habit of carrying my knives with me when I head into town. I was talking to a neighbor about dropping my knives off a for a week, and how I couldn't remember, and he mentioned some guy out in Lafayette who sharpens knives. Although my neighbor hadn't used him, he came highly recommended. So yesterday I made the call. Today after Bible study I drove out to his farm.

Yes.... his farm.

He'd given me good directions, like "after turning on ______ road, just keep on driving until it ends, " and "after you get there, just wander around 'til you find me." After driving to what seemed like the middle of Colorado, I found him. Here, in this setting.........

Here was the view on the other side of all those luscious trees..

I wandered around until I found him out by one of the barns, repairing the engine on his riding mower. His wife was hacking at the weeds with what looked like a machete. Our expert jack of all trades sharpened most of the knives in his mobile sharpening van (which I found out he takes to the Boulder Farmer's Market on the weekends), while doing the serrated edged knives on a different piece of equipment in the barn.



I felt like I'd entered some sort of alternate, "Good Eats" universe. There I was, in the country, getting my knives expertly sharpened on different grinding stones, while my kids played on the farm. The trees overhead were old and lush, a rare gem anywhere in Colorado, but even more so on the plains. Clouds drifted by overhead, and in the distance one could still see snow on the higher Rocky Mountain peaks. I talked with the knife sharpener's wife while the kids chased dragonflies out by the pond and played in the trees. It's almost like I was leading someone else's life. To top it all off, all 7 of my knives were done in just over half an hour, and the cost was only $30. Can't beat that! Now even my straight edged knives will cut through a tomato with no problems at all. Maybe I'll broil some tomatoes with pesto sauce out on the grill tonight.

The downsides of heading out the farm for knife sharpening -- bugs and dirt. Caitlin got a bug bite on her face, and her cheek is swollen. The poor girl's a bug magnet - and a sensitive one at that. The kids are also quite filthy! They had a blast, but the amount of dirt they attracted in the short period of time we were there was massive. They had fun on the tractors and chasing the dragonflies. Good thing they're due for a bath tonight.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Positive Vibes

I saw this article in Sunday's Boulder Daily Camera:

Positive Vibes Sent to Gulf Shore Coast

"It began and ended with the ringing of a bell.

In between, 32 people -- mostly strangers -- linked hands on the shores of Boulder Reservoir and sent their most positive thoughts 1,400 miles to the southeast, where oil continued to wash up on beaches of the Gulf Coast....

"I was so inspired by people coming together with positive intentions focused on the water," said Katerina Seas, who helped organize the gathering via e-mail, Facebook, and word of mouth just 10 days ago. [...]"

Seriously? Positive Vibes? What does that mean, exactly? Acquaintances on Facebook ask for it. People I know who term themselves "spiritual" people (but are very secular) both send and receive these positive vibes. And now it's in the paper. So, what are "positive vibes" to these people? Is it the equivalent of prayer? Sound waves? Is their intentional thinking about the gulf coast going to solve the problem? Will the vibes travel from here to there and make the people and animals of the gulf happy? I've had very intentional thoughts about losing weight, but so far I haven't had any luck. Without God to move the mountains, they aren't moving, people!

I'm all for standing in solidarity with the affected communities. I have nothing against vigils or outpourings of support. But to think that this will help....? I can't imagine that send these vibes did any good whatsoever. A few people drove some distance to get to this gathering. Their money, I'm sure, could have been put to better use had they donated it to a gulf relief fund.

Good luck with your vibes. For the sake of the gulf, I do hope they work. Those people and animals could use some good luck. As for me, I'll continue to use prayer as my medium. I know it's being heard, and can be answered.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Checking Out

Dear King Soopers -
I don't normally write letters to stores. In fact, I've never written to a store (and it's not likely this letter will ever reach you). But seriously, King Soopers, you need another check-out alternative. The choices of having the cashier scan the items in your basket or using the self-check line are just not cutting it! It's been a few weeks since I shopped at your store. It's near my daughter's preschool and not near my house, so I shop there when school's in session. Today was a special preschool camp, so I headed over to your store with a happy heart this morning. I like your store. I like your produce. I like your natural and organic food aisles. I like your sales (was there too much emphasis there?). Unlike Safeway, which is nearby, it's your sales that are very heavily documented in all the couponing blogs in Colorado. So I shop at your store.

But I digress......this is a post about checking out.

With a happy heart I headed to your store today. At 8:30 in the morning. Not a heavy shopping time, based on my experience. But you wouldn't know that at your store. I shopped for a mere 15 minutes, and then spent the same amount of time at the check-out! Out of necessity, I used the self-check line. The only 2 cashiers in the front had lines of 3 or more people with full carts. No loss, as the cashiers are slow as molasses. Maybe slower. I've taken to mental head banging to pass the time. The self-check lines are only marginally faster. The machines are slow. There must be magical, specific ways to operate them which only fairies know, because I can't figure them out. I don't have this problem at other stores. But at your store, and only your store, the cashier overseeing the machines must come and assist me. Eventually. Mostly with words like "you can't scan it that way", and "why did you bring your own bags?"

I realize that this cashier situation is a state-wide problem. I've struggled with not screaming or tearing my hair out at grocery stores since I moved here (and I come from a state with 36 million more people!). I worked as a cashier for many years, and speed and accuracy were pounded into my skull early on. You had to be fast and accurate, or you didn't last. Not so here. Being quick is not required. At all. I have been late to pick up my daughter from school after being in line to check-out for 20 minutes with only one person in front of me (who did not, by the way, have an over flowing cart). My daughter's school is only 1 mile away. Being late never should have happened. I have left partially full carts and walked out because it was obvious that the 20 minutes I allotted myself for checking out was not enough. The invention of the wonderful self-check machine means that there are never enough cashiers at the stores that employ them. One local big box store near my house has 24 cash registers, with only 2 or 3 ever open during the weekdays. They sometimes get crazy, and open up to 6 (gasp! 6!) on the weekends. I'm not sure why they have so many. The main reason I make returns at another nationwide chain (besides things falling apart upon opening the package) is because I'm routinely charged twice for the same item. I don't shop there much anymore. Fast and accurate? Not longer necessary.

With a sad heart, I left your store. Yes, I will shop there again because your sales are good. But I will also visit other local stores. Stores that understand that while their customers must stand in line to pay for their items, they don't want that to be half of their time spent in their store.

Nothing for Lunch

Caitlin had her first day of day camp at her preschool today. This is the third time I've set my alarm for a weekday wake-up in 3 weeks! So nice. I packed her a sandwich and some Teddy Grahams. I had just enough left for a snack.

When I picked her up this afternoon, she gave me a funny look and said she didn't eat her lunch. And was quick to add that she didn't want to, either (she has to eat it at home if she doesn't eat it at school). She didn't like her sandwich, and she didn't like her Cheetos. Cheetos? I looked down at her lunch box, and noticed immediately that it wasn't hers. Even though it's the same kind, down to the smaller details, this one was more worn, and didn't have her name on. I opened it up to find food that wasn't from our house. A quick trip back inside the preschool got the right lunch box back, but all the lunch was gone. One of the teachers did think it was funny when the other girl got soooo excited about the Teddy Grahams! Stuff like that is often forbidden in lunches in Boulder. I'm only partially kidding.

On the way home Caitlin proceeded to tell me about her horrible wrong lunch, and how it had a salami and cheese sandwich on buttered bread. It must have been terribly disgusting for her, since she wrinkled up her nose the whole time she told me about it. The Cheetos must have been some sort of healthy alternative, since Caitlin has never once turned her nose up at Cheetos. Or any chip, for that matter. She's never snubbed the healthy alternatives, either, so who knows what those icky Cheetos were made of! The teachers were extremely sorry that this happened, so I'm sure she'll get her correct lunch tomorrow. Caitlin requested her favorite lunch of pickles, cheese and crackers, plus grapes, when we got home. All is well in Caitlin's world.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Tired Am I?

After an early morning, two flights, and a 3 hour layover in LAX, I'm standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth. But instead of brushing my teeth, I'm waiting for the electric toothbrush to start up. It's never going to start up, being that it's in Colorado and I'm in California, and have a regular, manual toothbrush in my mouth. I've now realized it's not going to brush my teeth unless I move it. I've been up for over 18 hours, and I'm tired.

How tired am I? I forgot to push the "publish" button for a few days.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Chilly Reception

Due to impending thunderstorms and our predicted 55 degrees and raining weekend, going to the outdoor swimming pool (our usual hangout) was out of the question today. I asked the kids what fun thing we should do on this chilly day (it's not even 65 degrees currently), and the vote was to head out to Chick-Fil-A for lunch. It was wildly crowded at CFA when we got there. More so than any day, even a Saturday, that I've seen. We did manage to get the last spot in the overflow parking lot, though!

Once inside, the kids went to the play area while I ordered. A few minutes later, they came back to tell me they'd secured a table, and also to tell me that one of my friends said hi to them. We do live in a very small town, so it's not unusual to see someone I know when I'm out and about. I scanned the area, but didn't see anyone I knew. A few minutes later I saw someone I use to know emerge from the play area. She was part of a MOPS group I use belonged to, but I haven't seen her for about a year. She was gathering up her kids to go, so I went over to say a quick "hi" before she left. I mean, she already knew I was there, so I didn't want to be rude! She was sweet, we talked for a few minutes about our growing kids (her littlest was only 6 months old last time I saw him). Her best friend, who had been the leader of our MOPS group, was there as well. Not to be rude, I also said "hi" to her friend.

Her response? Something akin to "Hurrumph!"

In her defense, she might have said "hi", or "hello". We were in a loud, crazy restaurant. However, it came out as if she was a crotchety old man in a sitcom who wasn't happy that the teenagers came home.

I should have been offended, I guess, but instead I was amused. I tried not to laugh out loud at her gruff response. Apparently I'm *not* her favorite person! It's funny, because she was exceptionally friendly and warm when I met her in early 2008. She made me feel welcomed when I visited her MOPS group. She asked me to be on steering and I accepted. That's when it all changed (cue up music from horror movies). We had our retreat and first meeting, and my opinion of her was never the same. She went from a warm and sweet woman to a rather blunt and tactless leader to our group. In unpublished posts, I described her as "rude and pushy". She was brusque and abrupt all the time. It got to the point that I could only handle in small doses. She was the reason I took my blog link off my Facebook page (when I got her friend request, which was a shock, I decided I really didn't want her to have that much access to how I feel). When Caitlin broke the car windshield with her head, thus making me late to our first steering meeting, she was mad at me for being late. Seriously? My daughter could have had a concussion, and she was angry I was late. A few months into it, I was mentally just done with that group. I wanted to quit early, and she was one the main reasons why. I had only committed for one year, so I did my one year and was out of there. I have never looked back, and I haven't missed it, either. I needed to leave for my own well-being. Honestly, I think I've just reached a point in my life where I'm unwilling to put up with people like her. With the exception of one person, the only reason I'm ever contacted by members of that group is for "purchasing events" (i.e. "Come to my Shaklee event - just to look at products! No presentation!" "Come to my Pampered Chef party!" "Come to my open house for the books I sell from home!" "Buy all your Christmas presents at our auction, bizarre!", "buy from me!", etc.) It was a long year, the year I was with that group of women. I call that my year of trying too hard.

I'm still laughing at her reaction. It did surprise me. I certainly don't hate the woman. She's usually very nice on a casual level. Her leadership skills, though, leave a lot to be desired. Although I had my own opinion about her and how she treated me, I'm not exactly sure what I did to her. Was I extremely transparent? Was she mad that I was late that one time? Maybe she was upset about my leaving her group? I'm not sure, but I won't be losing any sleep over it. Most of us can almost always be nice for short periods to someone we don't particularly like. We can smile, or say "hi". We can fake it. Guess she can't. What a chilly reception! In retrospect, my decision to leave that group was a good one. This whole area has a small-town feel, so I'm bound to run into to people from that group. And I'll still say hello and smile. But maybe I won't smile quite as big to her.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Play My Way!

I'm sitting in my front room, reading online about some local news in our town. I should be taking a shower, but the news is compelling so I haven't gotten that far yet. Brandon and Caitlin are painting rocks on the back porch. They're pretty happy. Our neighbor kid, Big J, came over about half an hour ago to play, which is fine with me. But he seems genuinely perplexed that Brandon and Caitlin are happily playing together, and don't want to do what he wants to do. I keep hearing "Hey, guys, I didn't come over here to play by myself. I came over to play {can't understand what he's saying here}."

As a person who is generally aggravated by loud people, I'm ready to send him home. But as mom, I'm holding my tongue, hoping they'll work it out. I'm curious about the outcome.

Brandon has made a few suggestions of what he wants to do, but his friend wants nothing to do with them. Instead, he wants to play in basement, which is already a disastrous mess from last night. Brandon and I spent a little less than an hour this morning cleaning up his Legos so he could use his train table for trains again. It was quite an undertaking, and it's no surprise to me that Brandon and Caitlin want to play with trains. But Big J destroys train tracks, and has destroyed all of Brandon's Lego creations. So I'm also not surprised Brandon doesn't want to play a game that involves trains and bombs.

Oh, the outcome has already played out. Big J has decided that he doesn't want to make rock bugs, play trains without bombs, or play the computer game (which is usually a huge hit). He's decided that he's leaving. Brandon's now very sad. I think his ego's hurt, so I should be a good mom and go comfort him.

Tuesday Evening Get Together

A month or two ago I though it would be a good idea to open our house over the summer on Tuesday evenings for our neighbors to come over. Nothing set, nothing formal, just bring your own meat/main course and something to share. We'll provide the house and the grill, so come when you can. It's not an original idea - some friends of ours back in California did this for a summer when Brandon was about a year and half. I can't remember if it had happened the previous year, or even happened the next summer, but I remember the summer we attended very well. Their house was uniquely set up for such a fun gathering. They had an L-shaped back yard with a pool at one end, and the rest of the back yard at the other. They had set pool times, and around 6:00 the pool was closed off, and everyone convened in the back yard for food. It was fun, and we went when we could.

Last night was the first night at our house.

It was fun. Two of my neighbors came over, along with another friend. In total we had 7 adults and 5 kids. We had our gas grill all fired up, and chairs everywhere. The kids were thrilled to have playmates over. Two other neighbors couldn't make it due to other commitments, but said that their families would be here next week. I'm sure we all ate too many chips, and my basement is a kid-game disaster, but it was worth it.

Community has been hard to come by in these here parts. I'm sure you're all tired of my rants, but it's been true. I met up with a friend of mine yesterday at our local pool, and she said the same thing. She's been here almost three years. We hardly ever get together because of her work schedule, but plan on doing more this summer while she's off. She was happy to gather up her family for a spur of the moment open grill night at my house. That's a nice feeling. Neither one of us has any great desire to hang out at home by ourselves, so this is a perfect way to combat that issue. Originally, I'd thought that opening up my house would be a fun way to get my neighbors together, but now I'm seeing it as an open house for other friends as well. I hope they can see this as a very informal way to hang out, eat, and share a fun time with others.

So, if you're reading this and you're in Colorado, feel free to come hang out next Tuesday evening at my place. The grill will be hot, the drinks will be cold, and the house is fairly childproof. See you here!